Technology and last!!

A story of how the healthcare world is changing

Chris Stakutis   978 764 3488     August 2014   CTO

We are all living the explosive life of technology and technology has clearly invaded every industry and segment of our lives, including healthcare. Creations such as electronic patient records, amazing data sharing with equipment vendors and facilities, and our own personal records have been in the works for years. But that is just the tip of the electronic iceberg and so much more innovation is in front of us.

Six years ago I wrote a book about how technology is appropriately invading our lives, particularly around healthcare. At the time, much of what I wrote about wireless/bluetooth technology, remote sensors, and centralized patient records was thought to be too far fetched. Today, we see commercials on TV where your scale talks to your phone and your exercise equipment stores your data in the cloud.

In the cloud? The cloud was not around when I wrote my book. We had bluetooth. We had Blackberries (a smaller segment of the population clearly than today). And we certainly had the internet and connectivity. But we didn't have the global concept of data storage that is ubiquitous. The cloud changes everything, even if you don’t understand what the cloud is.

Have you noticed that if you change computers that your gmail “to” list is current even on a foreign machine? That data is not stored on your computer and it is not something that you need to back-up – almost like magic, it is “out there” somewhere but you don’t need to worry about where or how.

Turn to healthcare. Your next phone will know your weight-history and exercise regiment. And so will your pad or computer or perhaps even your car's management system. Where the data actually lives is no longer a thought – access to the data is the key, and there is a long road ahead of us to get all that data properly accessed in healthcare.

While it is cute to have your phone or web-device know your weight, it will be a lot more interesting to have access to your medication history, diagnoses, and medical images. I take my 94 year old dad to the hospital too often, and it always starts with a paper-list of the last known medications from their perspective (thankfully he typically visits the same hospital so it is accurate – but that's an exception). I've been in the hospital myself over the years and the only take-home present I get is some pamphlets and a short note on how to care for a condition and maybe some medication scripts. I dont receive any records on my blood work nor the notes the various physicians took nor any of my medical images. I sure would like to see that x-ray of my broken wrist.

Let me try to put this in perspective. Six years ago, sitting on an airplane texting with my Blackberry I was scorned upon (oh, put it away, it can wait, have a life, etc etc). Today, at the local Dunks in my own town I see three 70+ women on their phone, texting. Its probably not work for them, right? Could be their kids, or grandkids, or the next nail appointment. Point is: It is no longer weird.

So, when will access to our health records be the same? Very soon...hold on.

© 2014 Chris Stakutis is an independent consultant, author, and software creator available to help your business.